Sunidhi Chauhan

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Sunidhi Chauhan
Sunidhi Chauhan Voice India.jpg
Chauhan at the launch of The Voice India in 2015
Born Nidhi Chauhan
(1983-08-14) 14 August 1983 (age 33)
New Delhi, India
Residence Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Nationality Indian
Occupation Singer
Years active 1996–present
Home town Delhi, India
Religion Hindu
Spouse(s)
  • Bobby Khan (m. 2002; div. 2003)
  • Hitesh Sonik (m. 2012)
Musical career
Genres
Instruments Vocals
Labels
Website sunidhichauhan.org.in
Signature
Sunidhi Chauhan Autograph.jpg

Sunidhi Chauhan (pronounced [sʊnɪd̪iː tʃʰoːhən]; born 14 August 1983) is an Indian playback singer. Born in Delhi, she began performing in local gatherings at the age of four and made her career debut at the age of 13, with the film Shastra (1996). During the year, she won the first singing reality show titled Meri Awaz Suno. She rose to prominence after recording "Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi" from Mast (1999), ultimately winning the Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent and was nominated for the Best Female Playback Singer.

Her second breakthrough was released in 2000, with the song "Mehboob Mere", for which she received another Filmfare nomination. Through her career, she performed mostly item songs and was described in the media as the "queen of item songs". Chauhan received her third Filmfare nomination with the song "Dhoom Machale" (2004) followed by two more nominations during the next year for "Kaisi Paheli" and "Deedar De". 2006 was one of the most successful years in her career, where she was bestowed with her first Filmfare award for her rendition of the song "Beedi" and further two nominations for "Soniye" and "Aashiqui Main". The following year, she was prominently recognized for the title song of Aaja Nachle (2007) and "Sajnaaji Vaari", both critically and commercially well received.

Chauhan received her 12th Filmfare nomination with "Chor Bazaari" (2009) preceded by "Dance Pe Chance" (2008). 2010 marked her International singing debut, where she was featured in the song "Heartbeat" alongside Enrique Iglesias. During the year, she received her second Filmfare award with the item song "Sheila Ki Jawani" (2010) and was nominated for international styled carnival song "Udi" (2010). In the year, Chauhan appeared as a judge in the 5th season of the Indian television music competition, Indian Idol followed by its 6th season during the year 2012. She also served as a coach in the Indian version of the The Voice.

Being an inspiration to many upcoming singers, her work has received praise from veteran artists and some of her contemporary singers. Besides her career in music, she has also been involved in various charities and social causes.

Early life[edit]

Sunidhi Chauhan was born on 14 August 1983, in New Delhi, India.[1] Her father, Dushyant Kumar Chauhan, who is from Uttar Pradesh, is a theatre personality at the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra.[2] Her mother, a homemaker, inclined Chauhan to persuade a career in music.[2] She also has a younger sister.[2] At the age of four, Chauhan started performing at competitions and local gatherings, subsequently convinced by her father's friends to take singing seriously.[1] During that time, she was doing live shows and trained herself with "regular riyaaz by listening to cassettes and CDs of popular numbers".[3]

She did her early studies in Greenway modern School, Delhi and then went to Rajendra Nagar, Delhi for further studies and used to stay with her family members.[4][5] She discontinued studies right after schooling to pursue a career in the music industry.[6] She said: "I quit because I did not feel like studying. I made the decision to pursue my dream as a singer and I don't regret it one bit".[7]

When actress Tabassum spotted her, she made her sing live in her show Tabassum Hit Parade and asked her family to shift to Mumbai.[8] She then introduced Chauhan to Kalyanji Virji Shah and Anandji Virji Shah.[9] When she was 11, her dad quit his career and brought her to Mumbai. Initially, the family had financial difficulties in adjusting life to the city. After shifting there, she worked in Kalyanji's academy for few years and became the lead singer in his "Little Wonders" troupe.[10] She was then offered with many shows, though her father insisted on singing for films.[1]

Career[edit]

1995–2000: Career beginnings, Mast and Fiza[edit]

Chauhan performing at an event in 2006

In 1995, Chauhan performed at the 40th Filmfare Awards with the group "Little Wonders", when music director Aadesh Shrivastava heard her and wanted to record her voice for the film, Shastra (1996).[1] She made her career debut at the age of 13, with the song "Ladki Deewani Dekho" from the film, alongside Udit Narayan.[11] During the year, she won the first singing reality show on DD National titled Meri Awaz Suno, where she was honored with the "Lata Mangeshkar Trophy" for the best female singer of India.[12][13] Besides, she recorded her first solo album, Aira Gaira Nathu Khaira which was ultimately promoted as a children's album.[14] Chauhan then realized her "limitations" and got formal training in classical singing from Gautam Mukherjee.[12] For the next two years, she mostly did background scores.[10]

Chauhan met singer Sonu Nigam, who recommended her to Sandeep Chowta.[15] During the time, Chowta was working as the music director for Ram Gopal Varma's film Mast (1999).[16] Within two weeks time, Chauhan was signed to lend her voice for the film's song where she recorded the title track along with "Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi" and "Suna Tha".[17] For the song "Ruki Ruki Si", Chauhan won the RD Burman award, at the Annual Filmfare awards, and was nominated for the Best Female Playback Singer, at the same ceremony.[18] By the end of the year, Chauhan worked with Anand–Milind for Jaanwar and with Shrivastava for two films; Dahek and Bade Dilwala.[19]

Chauhan's second breakthrough was released in 2000, where she collaborated with composer-singer Anu Malik, for the song "Mehboob Mere" from Fiza which was picturized on Sushmita Sen.[20] She considered the track that came to her the "most naturally", while recording of the song was completed in 15 minutes.[15] Chauhan received another nomination for Best Female Playback Singer for "Mehboob Mere".[21] She was also heard in Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy-composed folksy flavoured "Bumbro" from Mission Kashmir, which was promoted from being a "background song into the foreground" because of "its beauty".[22] The director of the film, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, wanted an innocent voice for the song when he roped Chauhan to sing for Preity Zinta.[22] According to Chopra, "Chauhan could sound very girlish. So she sang the song with that slightly broken voice".[22]

2001–05: Ajnabee, Chameli and Dhoom[edit]

In 2001, Chauhan was featured in four tracks from the album of Ajnabee. Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com described Chauhan's rendition of Adnan Sami-duet "Mehbooba Mehbooba" as "saucy", and Kumar Sanu-duet "Meri Zindagi Mein" as "mundane rendition" but criticized the next two tracks; "Mujhko Neend Aa Rahi Hai" and "Kasam Se Teri Aankhen" as she is heard "bored" and "fall flat".[23] She credited Malik for playing a major role in her "evolution", as he "fought" with the producers to give her the songs, because of that she was "accepted in typical heroines romantic numbers".[8] She then lend her voice for "Ek Baar Pyar" for Anand Raj Anand and "Yeh Kaisa Ehsaas Hai" for Milind Sagar; both from Ehsaas: The Feeling and duet with Nigam.[24] Besides, she was heard in Malik's Yaadein; "Alaap", "Jab Dil Miley" and "Yaadein Yaad Aati Hain" were critically acclaimed.[25]

Sunidhi Chauhan smiling looking at camera
Chauhan at Michael Learns to Rock concert, 2010

Chauhan collaborated with Malik for four films during the year 2002. Apart from the title track, she performed three other songs; "Maine To Khai Kasam", "More Sawariya" and "Ya Habibi" for the film Awara Paagal Deewana.[26] During the year, she teamed up with Ismail Darbar for the first time and released her "most difficult" song of recording; "Ai Ajnabi" from Deewangee.[15] Chauhan, alongside Abhijeet performed a remix version of the song "O Haseena Zulfowali" for Babloo Chakravorthy, as a tribute to R. D. Burman's music, which critics felt that she is "un-listenable in her Asha Bhosle rendition".[27] Apart from featuring in the soundtrack album of Himesh Reshammiya's film Humraaz, Chauhan worked with M.M. Kreem for Sur – The Melody of Life, where she performed "Aa Bhi Ja" and "Dil Mein Jaagi Dhadkan Aise"; which she considered "hummable" and different from her "usual style".[28][15] According to Priyanka Bhattacharya, "Chauhan's matured rendition surprises in the second half of "Aa Bhi Ja" and mentioned that other track is also "equally good".[28]

Chauhan made her second screen appearance in 2003 with Ram Gopal Varma-directed Bhoot, where she was featured in the promotional music video of "Bhoot Hoon Main", composed by Salim–Sulaiman.[29] According to Malik, he roped in Chauhan to playback for Kareena Kapoor in two song of Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, since "Chauhan came in for the passion, as she understands [him] in such songs".[30][31] She later worked with him for the song "Dekh Le" from Munna Bhai M.B.B.S..[32] Her second collaboration with Sandesh Shandilya was released in 2004, with Chameli.[33] She performed six tracks for the album, out of which Chauhan received most recognition with the songs "Bhaage Re Mann" and "Sajna Ve Sajna". Chauhan's higher octave "carefree delivery" of the former was appreciated by the critics while she chose the latter as her "personal favorite" song in her career.[34][35]

Chauhan received her third Filmfare nomination for Best Female Playback Singer for the song "Dhoom Machaale" from Dhoom (2004), which was both critically and commercially appreciated.[18] Besides, Chauhan performed four tracks for Garv, composed by Sajid-Wajid.[36] However, music critics labelled her "stereotyped" and noted that "all her songs sound alike".[36] And "Saiyan" from Garv is "no different" from A.R. Rahman-composed "Saiyyan" of Nayak (2001).[36] One of the dance numbers released during the year was "Aisa Jadoo" from Khakee composed by Ram Sampath, followed by "Ishq Kabhi Kario Na" and "Saaki" from Musafir.[37][38] Reportedly, Sampath asked Chauhan to stand two feet away from the mike while recording the song "Aisa Jadoo", as the "equipment couldn’t handle her pumped-up voice throw".[39] In her review of Musafir, Verma wrote: "Chauhan's husky vocals do complete justice to "Ishq Kabhi Kario Na" by adding just the right amount of sauciness and oomph".[40]

2005, marked the first collaboration of Chauhan with composer Shantanu Moitra where she recorded "Aao Nee Kudiyon" for 7½ Phere and the seductive track "Kaisi Paheli Zindagani" for Parineeta.[41] Sahaya Ranjit from India Today called her voice a "westernised edge" and "sensuous texture" with a jazz influence in her rendition.[42] Apart from recording the Rajasthani folk influenced "Phir Raat Kati" in Paheli, alongside Sukhwinder Singh, she was heard in a slow pace club number "Jadoo" from Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav.[43][44] During the year, she performed with Abhishek Bachchan in Vishal-Shekhar's composition, "Right Here Right Now" from Bluffmaster!.[45] She worked with Vishal-Shekhar in few other compositions including Dus (2005) and Shabd (2005).[46] She was heard in "Chahaton Ka Silsila"—duet with Kumar Sanu, "Khoya Khoya"—duet with Sonu Nigam and "Sholon Si"—duet with Vishal Dadlani, from Shabd.[47] Chauhan received two more Filmfare award nominations for her rendition of the song "Deedar De" from Dus and "Kaisi Paheli Zindagani" of Parineeta.[48] Apparently, Sonu Nigam picked her as the most outstanding voice of 2005, for her rendition of those songs.[49]

2006–09: Omkara, Aaja Nachle and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi[edit]

Chauhan was bestowed with her first filmfare award for her rendition of the song "Beedi Jalaile" from Omkara (2006).[50] The song being a critical and commercial success, Bipasha Basu—who was featured in the song—said: "Sunidhi is a goddess. Her singing is so powerful. She added another dimension to my dancing".[51] She received further two nominations during the year; "Soniye" from Aksar and "Aashiqui Main" 36 China Town.[52] Apart from the latter, Chauhan worked with Reshammiya in 10 other films. Songs like "Keh Do Naa" and "Meethi Meethi Baataan" from Aap Ki Khatir, along with "Ishq Kiya Kiya" and "Let's Rock" from Anthony Kaun Hai? were moderately received by the critics.[53][54] Chauhan made her third screen appearance with the promotional song "Dheemey Dheemey" from Bas Ek Pal, along with KK.[55] She performed with him for two other tracks, "Ashq Bhi" and "Hai Ishq Ye Kya Ek Khata" for the film, where all the songs were critically favored.[55] Komal Mehta of Rediff.com wrote: "Sunidhi Chauhan and KK have sung brilliantly throughout the album. They have modified their style to convey the feel and emotion of every song".[55]

Sunidhi Chauhan smiling wearing a blue top
Chauhan (sunburned) after performing in a concert, 2006

Chauhan's collaboration with Pritam during the year was appreciated by the music critics. Her rendition of "Tere Bin", "Aa Kushi Se Khud Kushi Karle" and Opera-style singing of "Afreen" was well received.[56] Besides, their work in "Crazy Kiya Re" of Dhoom 2 was widely acclaimed, however Gangster's "Lamha Lamha" was labelled as a "romantic irritant" song by Rediff.com.[57][58] During the year, Chauhan performed her ever duet with Shreya Ghoshal—though they have contributed in multi-singer songs together—with the Salim–Sulaiman's composition, "Imaan Ka Asar" from Dor.[8] Apart from rendering two soft track for the film Fanaa, "Mere Haath Mein" and "Dekho Na", both composed by Jatin-Lalit and performed along with Nigam, Chauhan voiced for the remixed track of "Yeh Mera Dil" which was originally sung by Asha Bhosle.[59][60][61] According to Rediff.com; "The usually confident Sunidhi Chauhan appears to be conscious of inevitable comparisons to Asha Bhosle's version of the same".[62] The song was met with mixed reactions; some people considered Chauhan's voice more huskier than it requires, while other complimented her vocals.[63] However, Chauhan personally felt that the song would sound much better if she had "sung the song on a higher note".[63] Moreover, she also performed the English language song "Reach Out" at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Asian Games at Doha.[64][65][66][67]

After providing vocals for Kajol in her comeback film Fanaa, Chauhan lent her voice for Madhuri Dixit in her comeback film Aaja Nachle (2007), where she rendered "Soniye Mil Ja" along with Sukhwinder Singh and "Koi Patthar Se Naa Maare" alongside Nigam and Ghoshal, apart from the title track.[68] In spite of rendering Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy composed "JBJ" for Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Chauhan lent her voice for Shantanu Moitra in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, where she performed "Hum To Aise Hain" along with Ghoshal which also had Swanand Kirkire and Pranab Biswas lending supporting vocals.[69][70] In a review from Rediff.com, Raja Sen wrote; "The two-sister song works, from moustache-and-cow similes to paan spits to a fantastic 3-2-1-2-7-2 count, the female vocalists doing the upbeat words justice".[71] However, they found "Kachchi Kaliyaan" from the same film less appealing with its "bad remix background" though praised Chauhan, Ghoshal, KK and Nigam for giving the song "the vim it requires".[71] Besides, Chauhan recorded the soft romantic melody song "Hey Shona" for Vishal-Shekhar for whom she performed "Pyaar Ki Yeh Kahani" and "Sajnaaji Vaari Vaari" from Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., which resulted in another nomination at filmfare awards along with "Aaja Nachle".[72][73]

Chauhan received her 11th Filmfare nomination for Best Playback Singer Award with Salim–Sulaiman's composition, "Dance Pe Chance" from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008).[74] Apart from rendering the club dance song "Lucky Boy" from Vishal-Shekhar's Bachna Ae Haseeno, Chauhan provided vocals for "Dekho Nashe Mein", "Mujh Pe Jadoo", "Race Saason Ki" and its "high-on-English lyrics" version titled "Race Is On My Mind" for Pritam-composed Race, which were equally well received for its energy on vocals and composition.[75][76] Another release of the year, "Desi Girl" from Dostana was a commercial success where she was named after the title of the song after its release.[77][78] She later worked with Vishal Bhardwaj for U Me Aur Hum, where she recorded both "Phatte" and "Saiyaan" along with Adnan Sami.[79] Besides, Chauhan dubbed for Kareena Kapoor with her "husky vocals" in the song "Chhaliya" and "Dil Dance Maare", included in the soundtrack album of Tashan.[80]

2009 marks Chauhan's second collaboration with Ilaiyaraaja by singing "Batla De Koyi" from Chal Chalein and "Hichki Hichki" from Paa. In a review of the latter by Rediff.com, Sen wrote; "Swanand Kirkire's mastery with the lyrics is evident here, as Sunidhi Chauhan's vocals seem to have been challenged to the max with this difficult, unusual song".[81] During the year, Chauhan received critical acclaim with the Vishal Bhardwaj-composed "Raat Ke Dhai Baje" from Kaminey for having a "seamless" transition of alternating voices by Chauhan and co-singer Rekha Bhardwaj.[82] Along with "Gazab" from Aa Dekhen Zara, Chauhan worked with Pritam in Dil Bole Hadippa! and performed the club song "Hotty Naughty" for De Dana Dan.[83] Despite the positive response received for songs like "Chor Bazaari" from Love Aaj Kal, Chauhan was criticized for her pronunciation in the title track of Kambakkht Ishq, composed by Anu Malik.[84] Chauhan received another Filmfare nomination for the former. During the year, she also worked with Sajid-Wajid for films Main Aurr Mrs Khanna and Wanted where she performed both "Happening" and "Mrs. Khanna" for the former and both "Ishq Vishq" and "Tose Pyar Karte Hain" for the latter.[85][86]

2010–13: Euphoria, Guzaarish and Tees Maar Khan[edit]

Sunidhi Chauhan posing for a photo looking to the camera
Chauhan promoting Enrique Iglesias's album Euphoria, 2010

2010 marks Chauhan's international singing debut, where she was featured in an alternate version of the song "Heartbeat" titled as "Heartbeat (India Mix)" alongside Spanish recording artist Enrique Iglesias, included on a Special Indian Edition of Euphoria.[87][88][89] During the year, she performed a holi number, "Chhan Ke Mohalla" from Action Replayy and a fast-paced Punjabi flavored dance number "Ainvayi Ainvayi" from Band Baaja Baaraat.[90][91] The year marks her ever collaboration with Sanjay Leela Bhansali by recording the international styled carnival song "Udi" from Guzaarish. Complimenting her "fiery" vocals in the song, Sukanya Verma wrote: "Sunidhi Chauhan aims to burn the floor with her fiery, spunky performance in Udi".[92] She was also part of the soundtrack album Housefull, where she performed "Aapka Kya Hoga (Dhanno)" and "I Don't Know What To Do" in her usual "sensuous voice".[93] Apart from recording the title track and "Sanu Guzra Zamana" for Reshammiya's Kajraare, Chauhan was heard in Pritam's cabaret number "Parda" from Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai which has influences of "Piya Tu" and "Duniya Mein" while brought in an improvised "true retro feel".[94][95]

During the year, Chauhan collaborated with Vishal-Shekhar for three projects; Break Ke Baad, I Hate Luv Storys and Tees Maar Khan. Both the songs, "Bin Tere" from I Hate Luv Storys and "Sheila Ki Jawani" from Tees Maar Khan were commercial success and were included in The Express Tribune's "Top 10 Bollywood songs of 2010".[96] Described as the "hottest item song of the year", the song along with its crew faced a controversy over the "raunchy" lyrics, though Chauhan felt that the "song has been written in sync with the storyline of the film and does not intend to hurt the female sentiments".[97] Chauhan won her second Filmfare Awards for Best Female Playback Singer for "Sheila Ki Jawani" and was nominated in the same category for "Udi".[98][99] Another release of her, "Neeyat Kharab Hai" which was composed by Salim-Sulaiman for Teen Patti was critically acclaimed for her "seductive" and "catchy" rendition; Jaspreet Pandohar from BBC Online wrote: "Chauhan provide a classy, powerhouse performance in a style that would do Shirley Bassey proud".[100] During the year, Chauhan appeared as a judge alongside Anu Malik and Salim Merchant in the 5th season of the Indian television music competition, Indian Idol.[101] Along with 10 other artists, Chauhan performed a 30-minute segment titled the Universal Music of Love comprised Sufi, folk, Indipop and world music performances during the 2010 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.[102][103]

In 2011, Chauhan collaborated with Pritam for four films, out of which she was praised for her rendition of the slow paced track "Te Amo" from Dum Maaro Dum.[104] Her performance in Sangeet Siddharth-Siddharth Haldipur composed sensuous club song "Aa Zara" from Murder 2 was widely acclaimed both critically and commercially.[105] The year marks Chauhan's first collaboration with her husband, Hitesh Sonik by recording the song "Tu" for My Friend Pinto.[106] Chauhan proved her versatility by performing Sufi inflected love ballad "Ishq Sufiyana" and a disco nightclub song "Honeymoon Ki Raat", for Vishal-Shekhar's The Dirty Picture.[107] Complimenting her vocal range and flexibility, Verma wrote: "To Sunidhi's credit, she imbues her brand of spice and spunk to Rajat Arora's [...] lines without making it in-your-face".[108] Additionally, Chauhan dubbed for the voice of Jewel, in the Hindi-dubbed version of the American 3D computer-animated musical adventure-comedy film, Rio.[109][110]

In 2012, Chauhan appeared as a judge for the second time with the 6th season of Indian Idol, along with the judges from the previous season and Asha Bhosle as the fourth judge.[111][112] She teamed up with Amit Trivedi for the lavani track "Sava Dollar", where her "boisterous and bouncy voice" was praised along with her Marathi accent.[113] The duo also worked with another Marathi styled song "Navrai Majhi" for Sridevi's comeback film, English Vinglish, followed by the energetic "Chokra Jawaan" from Ishaqzaade, which was found similar with Chauhan-performed "Beedi", though her "naughty nakhras" in the song was well received.[114][115] The year marks Chauhan's second collaboration with Ajay-Atul by recording "Gun Gun Guna" from Agneepath along with Udit Narayan.[116] Two of the other well received songs were recorded with Pritam; "Kyon" from Barfi! and "Yaariyan" from Cocktail, performed with Papon for the former and Arijit Singh for the latter.[117][118] Besides, Chauhan performed some item songs during the year, including songs like "Halkat Jawani", "Kafirana", "The Disco Song" and "Laila". While reviewing the soundtrack album of Heroine, NDTV wrote: "Chauhan, the queen of item songs, is flawless [in the song "Halkat Jawani"]. The way she croons Aaja in the beginning is simply mind-blowing".[119] Besides she provided her voice to the character of Sita in the animated film Sons of Ram.[120]

Sunidhi Chauhan performing on stage wearing a black and yellow dress
Chauhan performing at Times of India Film Awards, 2013

Chauhan collaborated with the Pakistani band Junoon and sung a few Pakistani songs like "Galiyan Galiyan Husan Diyaan" for Mohabbataan Sachiyaan (2007), "Aap Dil Ke Anjuman Mein" and "Dil Dharke Main Tum Se" for Anjuman (2013), which brought her fame and recognition in the neighbouring country. In addition, she also performed live for the Pakistani award ceremony, 3rd Hum Awards, that held at Dubai in 2015.[121] She was part of the song "Apna Bombay Talkies" from Bombay Talkies which celebrated the 100th year of Indian cinema and the beginning of a new era in modern cinema.[122] In the song, the singers recorded for actors whom they generally do the playback singing, and Chauhan dubbed for Priyanka Chopra.[123] Chauhan was bestowed with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Best Female Singer for her rendition of the song "Kamli" from Dhoom 3.[124][125] Chauhan performed a high pitched rendition of the energetic "Tu Hi Khwahish" for Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara! which was the counterpart of "Parda" from the prequel.[126] She again worked with Pritam for performing the reprise version of "Janam Janam" of Phata Poster Nikhla Hero and "Mat Maari" for R... Rajkumar where Bollywood Hungama appraised Chauhan for dominating the song "effortlessly, though most of her portions are angry words. All that we can say after experiencing Sunidhi's mastery here is that the screen lost a terrific actor when she chose to go before the microphone".[127]

During the year, Chauhan voiced for Sonakshi Sinha—who expressed her interest to dub for Chauhan in a reality show—for the first time for the disco song "Thank God It's Friday" from Himmatwala composed by Sachin–Jigar.[128][129] She recorded another track "Dhoka Dhoka" for the same film, composed by Sajid-Wajid, performed along with Mamta Sharma.[130] The song was tagged as, when "Munni and Sheila" joins together, since the former was performed by Sharma and latter by Chauhan during the year 2010 and shared the filmfare trophy for their respective songs.[130] Chauhan teamed up with Anu Malik for performing retro club songs "Aala Re Aala", "Ek Din Ke Liye" and "Babli Badmaash" for Shootout at Wadala which NDTV mentioned that she is an "expert" in crooning such songs.[131][132] Another track composed by Pritam and performed along with Arijit Singh was met with mixed response with the music critics, where Mohar Basu from Koimoi thought Chauhan's "unsurpassable energy" fails in the song along with other factors.[133] The year marks her ever collaboration with Atif Aslam where the duo recorded the mellow track "Be Intehaan" for Race 2.[134] Chauhan made her debut in the domain of Rabindra Sangeet for the album Tagore & We - 2 where she recorded four tracks for the album.[135]

2014–present: Dil Dhadakne Do and beyond[edit]

Chauhan posing for a photo looking away from camera
Chauhan at Dadasaheb Phalke Award, 2014

Chauhan's first release of 2014 came with Vishal-Shekhar composition, "Punjabi Wedding Song" from Hasee Toh Phasee, duet with Benny Dayal.[136] The "foot-tapping number", became popular at weddings that were scheduled soon after the movie.[137] She was next heard in Rahman's traditional tuned "Tu Kuja" from Highway; According to The Times of Inida, "Though a devotional number, Chauhan's voice mixed with the music creates a very Western effect" to the song.[138] Apart from rendering Hitesh Sonik-composed "Ghoom Gayi" included in the album Hawaa Hawaai, Chauhan made an on-screen appearance in its music promotional video.[139][140] Moreover, Chauhan performed the "Mardaani Anthem" from Mardaani which gives the message that "women are as strong as men in spirit".[141] During the year, Chauhan recorded the track "Adhure" from Mary Kom sung in her "gentle", "soft" voice.[142] Apart from rendering "Qawali and rock fused" title track of Daawat-e-Ishq along with Javed Ali, she collaborated with Vishal-Shekhar for Happy New Year's "Dance Like a Chammiya".[143][144] Chauhan made her second appearance in a music video with the song "Baal Khade" from Khoobsurat, along with composer Sneha Khanwalkar and Sonam Kapoor.[145] She also lent her voice for the recreated version of Rajasthani folk song "Engine Ki Seeti" from the film.[146] Apart from Bollywood films, Chauhan lent her voice to the title track of the romantic thriller TV series Ek Hasina Thi.[147]

Chauhan was first heard during the year, in Sajid–Wajid's Punjabi peppy track "Phatte Tak Nachna" from Dolly Ki Doli.[148] The recording of the song was finished in one and a half hour.[10] According to Chauhan, "The vibe is just right and fabulous, and all of us were on fire when we were recording it".[10] She also performed a Jazz style number, "Girls Like To Swing" for Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy in Dil Dhadakne Do, which Chauhan considered as a type of song that she has not "attempted before".[149] The Indian Express appraised how Chauhan "crooned her lungs out" and "fitting the vocals in difficult structures" by not missing "even a quarter of a beat".[150] Moreover, Chauhan was selected to record the title track of Piku when composer Anupam Roy tried a lot of "current" singers, but the voices did not have the "spunky element" Roy wanted.[151] However, Surabhi Redkar from Koimoi felt that Chauhan's "gifted bright voice" failed to "upbeat feel" of the song.[152] Apart from rendering the song "Janib" from Dilliwali Zaalim Girlfriend along with Arijit Singh in the duet version,[153] she recorded Krsna Solo-composed "Move On" from Tanu Weds Manu Returns which India West labelled Chauhan as "brilliant", though Redkar from Koimoi was "surprised" how Chauhan had no problems singing a song that "seems like a blatant copy of her other song", "Bol Beliya" from Kill Dill.[154][155] Chauhan represented India at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in New York, where she performed on the stage alongside international performers like Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Beyoncé and others.[156] Additionally, Chauhan voiced for the character Elsa, in the Hindi-dubbed version of the 3D computer-animated musical fantasy film Frozen.[157][158]

Artistry[edit]

Voice[edit]

Chauhan possesses a high octave vocal range,[159] and has the ability to reach lower octaves and dropping notes with transition.[160] The Indian Express described her as a soprano, though they criticised her "high-pitched non-falsetto voice because of the "squeakiness it acquires while belting out those notes".[161] Lata Mangeshkar who described Chauhan's vocals as "different" from her contemporary, mentioned that her voice will not suit musical style of Lori.[162] Chauhan has a "powerful" and "husky"[163] voice which she attributes to her father.[10] Chauhan feels that her vocals structure suits Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif, Kajol, Parineeti Chopra and Urmila Matondkar the most.[3]

Chauhan's "high-energy vocals" have been described as "stereotyped" in item numbers by the media.[164] However, according to The Daily Star, "be it a soft classical-like piece or an operatic pitch, Chauhan is spectacular with her vocals".[160] Though Chauhan has performs in high-pitched vocals songs, she is prominent for her "deeper pitched voice" where Ajay Gehlawat wrote: "Chauhan's deeper timbre replaces Asha Bhosle's higher pitched vocals" in the song "Yeh Mera Dil", ensuring such "fuller female timbres become more commonplace' to a decidedly more forceful and sensual sounds".[165][166] Ganesh Anantharaman in his book Bollywood Melodies: A History of the Hindi Film Song wrote that Chauhan has a "good, expressive" voice but she crafted a particular image for herself as the singer of fast, racy songs.[167]

The Times of India considered her voice as the "liveliest voice in Bollywood".[14] According to MensXP.com, "her voice is orgasmic and extremely fierce. While singing a certain stanza, she gets into the mood so deeply, her voice breaks into a passionate squeal as she strikes a high note".[168] In an interview, Indian classical musician Rahul Sharma said, "Chauhan's voice has an element of sensuality which [is] also very versatile and I admire the quality of her voice and the kind of emotions she can bring out".[169] Chauhan believes that her voice has "certain uniqueness" and when it comes to a particular genre of singing, she cannot be competed.[170]

Musical style[edit]

Chauhan singing a song, wearing a black top
Chauhan performing at Channel V India Fest, 2014

Chauhan's music contains elements of pop, hip hop and R&B.[171] Chauhan's name was mostly tagged with item songs, though she has performed melodious slow numbers.[172] Chauhan believes that her audience feels more comfortable in hearing her singing item songs and she made her "name because of that genre".[173] Overtime, she was referred in the media as the "queen of item songs".[174][175] The perception of singing only item songs was "broken" when Chauhan performed the romantic song, "Meri Zindagi Mein" for Anu Malik which was then followed by songs from Chameli and Fanaa.[173] After several releases, she was described "stereotyped" with singing of similar style of item songs and the trend of such songs were criticized.[174] However, Chauhan declared that she "dislikes" tagging songs as item numbers and "they are treated specially, they have extra attention and they are picturised in a special way. So, I like being associated to any special song".[105][176]

Describing her singing style, Chauhan said; "I have no particular style; instead I only go with the music and the lyrics, and feel free to express my emotions through singing".[177] Though Chauhan's singing style has a strong western influences, she has recorded some semi-classical songs in her career, including songs from Rang Rasiya.[178] However, she has not performed any classical songs or a ghazal and expressed her interest on releasing a ghazal album since releasing a film ghazal is almost unknown today as a female song.[178][179] Known for her high pitch renditions, Chauhan's personal favourites are soft, soothing numbers.[180] Chauhan listens to different kinds of music at "different times" but she considered soulful song as her "all time favorites".[181] Believing that singing all kinds of songs makes her grow as a musician she revealed that her "weakness remains for soft melodies".[181] "Even on live shows, I first sing my fast numbers to get the audience into the groove. But once they are happy with their favorite numbers, I switch on to slow scores".[181]

Chauhan's live rendition of songs is praised by the viewers for her power and energy. A newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates, The National wrote: "From flitting between fast and slow songs, to playing with the tempos and notes of the songs she sang, she didn’t stick to the original format of any number".[182]

Influence[edit]

Lata Mangeshkar looking away from camera
Lata Mangeshkar has significantly influenced Chauhan and her music

Chauhan was introduced to music by her father, and credited her "powerful" voice to him.[2] Chauhan acknowledged that western music has had a huge impact in her singing and confessed that she likes to perform "songs that have a western flavour in them".[183] Believing that her voice has a "global appeal", Chauhan feels that her exposure to international music has only "sharpened" her skills while she does not forcefully tries to imply a western feel to the song.[184] Chauhan considers Lata Mangeshkar as her biggest inspiration.[185] "She is not a singer for me but a temple of music. There is something beyond singing that only she has".[1][186] Chauhan grew up listening to music by Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, while she is equally influenced by singers like Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sadhana Sargam, Alka Yagnik, Kishori Amonkar, Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey.[180][187]

Sonu Nigam who helped her getting her first break in the industry was named as one of the biggest influences in shaping her career along with her parents and she described him as a "catalyst to fuel my career".[12][188] Besides, Chauhan mentioned that competition is another influence in working hard in the industry.[12] She was mainly compared with her contemporary singer Shreya Ghoshal for which Chauhan stated, "I am contented to have my own area in the current music world. Likewise, Shreya Ghoshal has her own. I personally respect Shreya for her talents and nice songs, whom people consider as a threat to me".[12] Moreover, Chauhan's versatility is compared with Bhosle, where she described Bhosle as a "singing institution", whereas, Chauhan is like a "student to her".[12]

Chauhan has also been influenced by many artists outside the country. Chauhan considered Beyoncé as her role model and acknowledged her for keeping "herself together" and "balancing her life perfectly"; "She is such a strong woman. She can do everything".[1][10] Chauhan also admired the work of Michael Jackson and referred him as her God. "My first pick [from books] was Michael Jackson's autobiography. He is my God. I read the first two chapters and had tears in my eyes".[5] Other mainstream country influences includes Mariah Carey,[189] Celine Dion[190] and Whitney Houston.[191] According to Chauhan she started listening English songs after she turned 11, and she grew up listening to "Always Be My Baby" by Carey.[192] Apart from them, Chauhan named Alicia Keys and Usher as some of her favorites among foreign artists.[184] Chauhan who admires the work of Shakira was keen to be part of the Indian version of the The Voice since she served as a coach on the American version of the show.[193]

Public image[edit]

Sundihi Chauhan wearing a red top, looking at the camera half smiling
Sunidhi Chauhan at Shane Falguni Peacock preview for Bridal Asia, 2015

Known for experimenting with her style and image, Chauhan's music and fashion sense are noted by the media.[194] In 2010, while she appeared a judge in the Indian Idol (Season 5), her look was discussed in the media; Rediff.com considered her wardrobe sense a "real shame" considering that she is "young", "slim" and "pretty".[195] However, Mid Day praised her style in the show for "dressing in normal clothes" while compared to other judges, though they mentioned that "her hairstyle changes too often for our liking".[196] Prior to Indian Idol, Chauhan's face was not so familiar with the public and according to her, people imagined her to be a "30 to 40 years old woman in a sari", while she is "dressed casually in denims and a tee".[197] Reportedly, during a concert in Kolkata, the local people did not recognized her when she entered the venue, until the host introduced her to them.[197]

After Chauhan got married in 2012, she had put on weight of about 20kg.[198][2] During the time, she was getting breathless on stage, hence she wanted to get fit.[2] As Chauhan has to perform at concerts and regular shows, she wanted to "feel light and confident".[2] Besides, she likes "glamorous" outfits which she feels uncomfortable wearing with too much weight.[199] She made sure she works out at the gym every day or goes for a jog; follows a healthy diet; eats on time and sleeps as much as she can.[2][200] She knocked off 12kg by jogging and working out.[15] Post a hairdo in 2014, she worked on her wardrobe and chose a trendy image to "open up" to the fashion.[15] She appeared on the The Voice after the weight loss,[201] though clarified that "losing weight was not intentional. Neither was it for The Voice India. It's just that one day I decided that I need to go to gym and eat a healthy diet".[202]

Chauhan is cited in the media as one of India's most beautiful playback singer, and has ranked highly in polls choosing the most attractive Indian playback singer. In 2013, Chauhan appeared in the list of "World's Sexiest Asian Woman" by FHM India at the position 28,[203] and was named the "Hottest Female Bollywood Lead Singer" by MensXP.com.[204] Chauhan was selected in the list of "Top 5 Celeb100 Singers and Musicians" compiled by Forbes India.[205] She was also voted as Bollywood's most favorite Female Playback Singer in the "Vuclip Icons of the Year 2012" mobile survey.[206] Apart from public appearances, Chauhan began to use social media to respond directly to her fans.[207] She opened a Twitter account in 2010, and use a Facebook Fan page both manage by herself.[208][207] She was included at the position 22 of the "50 Most Influential Indians On Social Media", a list created by taking account of number of followers on Facebook and Twitter.[209]

Impact and recognition[edit]

Chauhan's work has received praise from veteran artists. Lata Mangeshkar calling her the "Numero Uno" singer of the generation said: "Sunidhi can sing all kinds of songs. And her voice and style have all the elements that Gen- Now hankers after".[210] Asha Bhosle,[211] Sadhana Sargam,[212] Usha Uthup[213] and Alka Yagnik[214] picked Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal as the best female singers from the generation. Manna Dey and Amjad Ali Khan praised the musical abilities of Chauhan.[215][216][217] Ghoshal, who is considered as the toughest competition to Chauhan, complimented her professionalism and said; "When we are in the studios, we chat and talk. I respect her as an artist and she does too".[218] Alisha Chinai remarked; "Chauhan works hard on her voice and has good technique".[219]

Naming Chauhan as her most favorite singer, Shalmali Kholgade found her musical skills "utterly" inspirational.[220] Papon called her a "versatile vocalist" and complimented how she "brings life into any kind of song".[221] British Indian rapper Hard Kaur affirmed that Chauhan as a person is as "good as her voice".[222] Composer Shantanu Moitra perceived that Chauhan is an artist who would "excel in any time and age".[223] Siddharth Mahadevan called himself an "an ardent fan of Sunidhi Chauhan",[224] while Mika Singh stated that "Chauhan serves as a role model for the youngsters".[225] Singer Shibani Kashyap remarked that Chauhan is a fabulous singer who "can sing all types of songs with the same ease".[226] Prakriti Kakar, Aditi Singh Sharma and Shilpa Rao mentioned Chauhan as an inspiration for them.[227]

Chauhan also received praise from many actors including Bipasha Basu and Amrita Rao.[228][229] In an interview Farhan Akhtar said, "I am a big Sunidhi fan. I love her voice, I love the way she nails the attitude of every song she does. She is dynamite on stage".[230] Chauhan was named as one of the singers Priyanka Chopra looks up to.[231] Ram Gopal Varma confessed that, he "truly sincerity honestly" thinks Chauhan is the "greatest singer in the world".[232] She also received praise from Richa Sharma,[233] Amit Prakash Mishra,[234] and Raghav Sachar.[235]

Philanthropy[edit]

Besides her career in music, Chauhan has also contributed to various charities. She is associated with social causes like working for the underprivileged children, where she contributes to the safety of them by doing charity shows, donating money and buying clothes.[3]

Sunidhi Chauhan performing on stage wearing a green dress
Chauhan performing live at Vadodara International Half Marathon, 2012

In 2005, Chauhan along with 16 other artists recorded a single titled "Zindagi Pukaarti Hai" to raise money for the victims of the tsunami disaster in India.[236] Performed at Screen Awards on 18 January 2005, the song was released as a cassette and a CD where the proceeds from sales will go to the victims.[237] She was further involved with fundraising events for charities involved in the disaster clean-up operation.[238] In 2006, Chauhan performed in a Bollywood concert held in Trafalgar Square to mark International Widows Day and start a charity to educate the children of poor widows in India.[239] Besides, Chauhan performed in a musical show along with singers such as Suresh Wadkar and KK which helped to raise 1.5 crore (US$220,000) through sponsorships and donations in order to open a home for senior citizens from all castes and communities.[240] She also hosted the global campaign, "World of Betters" in Mumbai which was launched by Alicia Keys.[241] Chauhan also assisted in raising funds for the "Save Our Tigers" campaign, initiated by Amitabh Bachchan.[242]

In October 2014, Chauhan was featured in a musical concert to raise awareness and funds for eye donations.[243][244] During the following month, Chauhan performed in Yuvraj Singh's social initiative YouWeCan, which aims to fight cancer by spreading awareness about the disease.[245] Chauhan also lent her voice for a music video of John Lennon's "Imagine".[246] The video was created as part of a global campaign by UNICEF to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[247] In September 2015, Chauhan represented India at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival, an annual music festival created to mark the establishment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a "to-do list" of 17 tasks to end extreme global poverty by the year 2030.[248][249] It was followed by a fundraiser concert featuring Chauhan which was dedicated in raising funds to promote breast and ovarian cancer research and awareness.[250]

Personal life[edit]

In 2002, at the age of 18, Chauhan married director and choreographer Bobby Khan after working on the music video for Pehla Nasha.[251] It was reported that the couple married in a secretly arranged ceremony, attended only by very close friends and vigilantly watched over by security.[252] Chauhan was initially happy with the marriage. In an interview, she said : "My in-laws don't make me feel I am married. I don't feel I have stepped into a new house. I am so comfortable. And Bobby is a darling. I am very, very happy".[15] However, the marriage caused a rift between Chauhan and her parents, who considered the union "unsuitable" and consequently disowned her.[2][253][254] In spite of that, Chauhan and Khan separated a year later, bringing about a reconciliation with her parents.[255] Chauhan, who lived with actor, Annu Kapoor and his wife Arunita during the separation, filed for divorce the same year, citing that she had realised she and Khan "wanted different things from life".[256][252]

Later, Chauhan began a romantic relationship with the music composer Hitesh Sonik whom she was friends with, since the days she won Meri Awaz Suno. After dating for more than two years, Chauhan married Sonik on 24 April 2012, at a low profile wedding ceremony in Mumbai.[257][258]

Awards and achievements[edit]

Throughout Chauhan's career, she has collected many honors and awards, including two Filmfare Awards, two International Indian Film Academy Awards, two Screen Awards, one Zee Cine Awards, one Mirchi Music Awards and one Global Indian Music Academy Awards.[259]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2001 Ehsaas: The Feeling Herself Cameo appearance [24]
2003 Bhoot Herself Special appearance in the promotional song "Bhoot Hoon Main" [29]
2004 Uuf Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai Herself Special appearance in the promotional song "Uuf Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai" [260]
2006 Bas Ek Pal Herself Special appearance in the promotional song "Dheeme Dheeme" [55]
2011 Rio (Hindi-dubbed version) Jewel Voice [109]
2012 Sons of Ram Sita Voice [120]
2014 Hawaa Hawaai Herself Special appearance in the promotional song "Ghoom Gayi" [139]
2014 Khoobsurat Herself Special appearance in the promotional song "Baal Khade" [145]
2015 Frozen (Hindi-dubbed version) Elsa Voice [157]
2016 Playing Priya (short film) Ghost Acting debut [261]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2010 Indian Idol 5 Herself Judge [101]
2012 Indian Idol 6 Herself Judge [111]
2015 The Voice Herself Coach [193]

Selected discography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Gehlawat, Ajay (2015). Twenty-First Century Bollywood: Volume 97 of Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series. Routledge. ISBN 9781317644002. 
  • O'Toole, William (2011). Events Feasibility and Development: From Strategy to Operations. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-7506-6640-4. 

External links[edit]